Pilicans feeding in the Pacific Ocean. A pelican, derived from a Greek word (meaning “axe” and applied to birds that cut wood with their bills or beaks) is a large water bird with a large throat pouch, belonging to the bird family Pelecanidae.
Along with the darters, cormorants, gannets, boobies, frigatebirds, and tropicbirds, pelicans make up the order Pelecaniformes. Modern pelicans, of which there are eight species, are found on all continents except Antarctica. They primarily inhabit warm regions, though breeding ranges reach 45° south (Australian Pelican, P. conspicillatus) and 60° North (American White Pelicans, P. erythrorhynchos, in western Canada). Birds of inland and coastal waters, they are absent from polar regions, the deep ocean, oceanic islands, and inland South America.